How to make Christmas log

Flavours of Home is a series of recipes from around the world cooked by people at home in Otago. This week Christiane Leurquin, from France, makes Bûche de Noël (Christmas log).

Christiane Leurquin was born in New Caledonia but grew up in Paris.

She and her husband came to New Zealand 19 years ago intending to stay for two years, but they liked it so much they are still here.

She teaches French at Kaikorai Valley High School and Otago University.

Bûche de Noël (yule log) is a traditional Christmas dessert, a rich, firm roll filled with chocolate butter cream and decorated like a yule log with marzipan mushrooms, leaves and other decorations.

Joyeux Noël! Christiane Leurquin holds a yule log she has made. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Joyeux Noël! Christiane Leurquin holds a yule log she has made. Photo by Peter McIntosh.

For the biscuit:
25g unsalted butter
75g sugar
4 egg yolks
75g flour
3 egg whites
1 tsp sugar
Preheat oven to 240degC

Melt butter. Beat egg yolks and sugar for about 5 minutes until pale and creamy.

Lightly stir in the flour. Clean beater and whisk egg whites until stiff, adding a teaspoon of sugar when they are fluffy.

Add melted butter and egg whites to the first mixture and fold in gently with a metal spoon.

Spread evenly on to an oven tray lined with baking paper and bake for 6 to 7 minutes at 240degC.

Take out of the oven and turn upside down on to another piece of baking paper on the bench.

Cover while you make the filling or roll up and refrigerate for filling later.

135g sugar
150ml water
4 Tbsp rum

Stir sugar and water together over heat until dissolved. Bring to boil, and allow to cook briefly. Cool and add rum or other flavouring.

Chocolate filling and topping:
125g dark chocolate
75g unsalted butter softened but not melted
2 egg yolks
3 egg whites
2 Tbsp sugar

Melt chocolate gently over hot water. Add softened butter cut into pieces and beat until thick and creamy.

Mix in egg yolks. Whisk egg whites until fluffy then add sugar and continue whisking until stiff.

Fold egg whites into chocolate mixture with a metal spoon.

To put the cake together:
Brush syrup on to the biscuit to moisten. Spread some chocolate mousse on it and roll tightly.

Wrap in the paper so it holds its shape and refrigerate for an hour to set.

Then cover the roll with the rest of the mousse and decorate with the rest of the chocolate mix, marzipan decorations and Christmas figures.

Often, the end of the cake is cut off and attached to the top or side of the roll to look like a branch.

Refrigerate until serving. Bon appetit!

Thanks to Afife Harris and Total Food Equipment.

- This recipe is easily doubled.

- Mrs Leurquin uses Danish unsalted butter which is closest to French butter available here, she says.

- When beating egg whites, make sure the bowl and beaters are clean, dry and free of any traces of fat or yolk, as this will prevent the whites from whisking stiffly.

- Adding sugar to the beaten egg whites helps stabilise the foam.

- If you want to make the biscuit in advance, roll it up while it is warm and store in the fridge for a day or two. Unroll to fill.

- Make the filling the day you plan to serve the cake, or no more than a day ahead.

- The syrup recipe makes more than you need, but it can be used for other things.

- To decorate, either spread the chocolate filling over the log and decorate with a fork or pipe it on.

- Make mushrooms, leaves and other decorations out of marzipan and colour with food colouring.

- The biscuit can be filled with other fillings, such as fruit, jam, chestnut purée (available canned), or nutella. It is firmer than a swiss sponge roll mix.

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